• Reaching Common Educational Goals: Are Public History (and Digital Humanities) Entities Providing the Resources Educators Want?

    Last year, for my capstone masters project in the NYU Archives and Public History program, I undertook a three-pronged exploratory project to assess the state of collaboration among history educators and providers of educational resources sought (and unsought) by them.  My project stemmed from the commonality of “education” embraced as a shared goal among public history institutions and schools. My aim was to determine whether providers of educational resources (including archivists, museum educators and creators of digital history projects) are meeting the stated needs of K-12 teachers (and to determine whether teachers’ educational goals match the goals of public history institutions). To reach my goal I surveyed 23 history teachers (mostly secondary-level) about their educational goals and about the resources (including text books, primary sources, websites and visits to historic sites and museums) they use to meet them.  I solicited feedback on how museums and creators of digital history sites can better serve the secondary educational community. Simultaneously, I interviewed 11 public historians including museum educators, archivists and creators of digital history projects about the genesis of their projects, how they conceive of their educational goals, the role that teachers and students play in their educational efforts and the ways that they measure success.  This study has illuminated elements of successful collaboration, areas for improvement and needs for further collaboration and advocacy in the promotion of history education in America.

    Although my project focused on history education, I believe it has relevance to the humanities more broadly. For this session, I am interested in sharing the results of my survey and discussing their implications for digital humanities projects that seek to offer resources to teachers. I look forward to discussing educational goals with creators and users of digital humanities resources and brainstorming ways in which institutions can work together to make their content more relevant to educators and to advocate for the breadth and depth of educational experience possible in the best-constructed digital humanities projects.

    I welcome suggestions and am happy to discuss my survey design and results in advance of THATCamp with anyone who is interested!

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  1. greenshade says:

    I realize that my current session description doesn’t fully explain how this links to “historical thinking” issues, so I’m including my original application as well:

    “I would like to talk about historical thinking and learning as it relates to collaboration between public history sites (including digital history websites) and k-16 education. I can draw on research I conducted last year wherein I surveyed a group of teachers about their educational goals, methods for meeting those goals and suggestions for museums, archives and online public history sites (including primary source repositories) in helping them achieve those goals. For that project, I also gained insights through extensive interviews with public history professionals in museums, archives and digital history projects. Since so many joint humanities and technology ventures are dedicated to providing annotated primary sources for educational use (and non-digital public history institutions so often use technological platforms to provide access to narrative and educational resources) I think this is an appropriate topic for Great Lakes THATCamp 2010. I hope you do too!”

  2. ArchMeg says:

    I’m interested in hearing about the results of your study. In addition to some work I’m doing with a local history center, I’ve also got colleagues who are just getting ready to start a digital public-science project, and I think learning about your survey methods would be helpful to them.

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